Education Graduates Face Tough Job Climate
By Cameron Miculka
University graduates with education degrees are facing one of the toughest job climates in recent years, said the Texas Education Agency.
With Texas being one of the last states to be hit by the bad economy and a budget shortfall of over $20 billion, teaching jobs are few and far between, and graduates looking for teaching positions are being forced to come up with creative ways to secure a job in Texas school districts.
Mary Throop, chief of staff for Representative Mark Strama, said that since public education makes up the largest portion of the budget, it makes it a prime target for cuts. As a result, it will be more difficult for school districts to hire new teachers. Throop said that this could drastically impact how children learn to use technology in the classroom and that the cuts would “delay innovation in the classroom.”
“Newer teachers are more comfortable with new technology,” Throop said, calling the cuts to public education a “disservice a students.”
Throop said that while a version of the state’s budget has already passed the House, the Senate has not yet approved its own version. But while House Democrats like Strama are opposing the cuts, Throop said that encouraging the state to raise revenue is practically out of the question. Throop said that Democrats, with only 49 members in the house, don’t have enough votes to pass any revenue bills, and are instead encouraging the state to use part of the “rainy day fund,” the state’s emergency account.
The Texas Education Agency is also warning graduates about the tough market for education jobs. Debbie Ratcliffe, communications director for the agency, called the current budget situation “far worse than any budget shortfall seen before.”
Ratcliffe warned that there would be thousands of layoffs from Texas schools and that people just entering the market are going to have a very difficult time finding a job. However, she said that graduates who explore less saturated fields like math and science.
This sentiment was echoed by Sharon Evans, director of education services in the College of Education.
Evans said that students with math, science or bilingual certification are highly sought after by school district while there is a “saturation” of students with elementary education and secondary English certifications.
Despite all this, however, Evans said that those drawn to a career in education are as passionate as ever. She said that the College of Education is attracting people who have already made careers in accounting and law, but are drawn to the “family atmosphere” of education.
“It’s a family-friendly profession,” said Evans. “The people who love teaching love teaching.”
Mary Throop encouraged students to get involved by talking to their representatives about their concerns, saying that, while legislators have heard from people in the teaching field, they haven’t heard at all from students.
“It’s just important to keep it on [the legislature’s] mind,” said Throop.
Ratcliffe said that the TEA has set up a database for those looking for jobs in education. The database can be found at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=2147500243.